Winning the Breakup in the Age of Instagram

Excerpt from this article:

“Winning the breakup” may be a petty concept, but everyone who exits relationships regularly (or maybe just exited one very memorably) knows exactly what it means. The winner is the ex whose career skyrockets after the split; whose new wife is a ­supermodel; who looks better; who dates better; who has bouncier hair. It’s getting over your ex before she gets over you and leading a demonstratively successful life without her — but doing so in ways that at least look casual, just for yourself, definitely not just to rub it in her face, because you’re so over her, remember? And therein lies the Catch-22 of winning the breakup: To care about winning, you are forced to care about not caring about someone. Asked about her weekend plans, my 26-year-old friend Sam once replied, “I’m assembling a team of hotties to torture my ex on Instagram.”

…“You’re familiar with the term success theater?” Sam asked when I brought the topic back up. The term gets tossed around the tech start-up world to describe the difference between presenting the image of a successful-sounding company and actually running one (tech reporter Jenna Wortham has used it to describe the act of showing off on social media).

…Placed on the Kübler-Ross scale of loss and grief, “trying to win him back” might be aligned with stage one, “denial.” Whereas “trying to win the breakup” could be an expression of stage two, “anger.” (How dare you stop loving a girl who looks this good in a bikini?!) Or stage three, “bargaining.” (If I look good enough in a bikini, someone will love me.) And though neither attitude seems particularly healthy, the masquerade does have a certain “fake it till you make it” quality. In the success theater of breakup grief, “winning” is about reaching stage five, “acceptance,” before your partner does. Even if you’re going on Instagrammable dates just to spite your ex, ultimately you are still, you know, going on dates. You’re dragging yourself out of bed, brushing your hair, and putting your freakum dress on.